Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thursday Thirteen 334: Spelling Bee

It is time once again for the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, taking place this week in Washington, DC. 281 young spellers, age 8 to 15, are competing in this year's event.

Back in January, I featured The Hound of the Baskervilles for a Teaser Tuesday post. Someone commented that they had learned a new word that day, which had me planning to use words from the novel for a T13 post. Due to one thing or another — one topic or another — it kept getting put off. With the spelling bee going on this week, I feel I can no longer delay. So, here are thirteen vocabulary words, with examples taken direct from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic mystery.

1. ferrule [fer-uhl, -ool] noun
a ring or cap, usually of metal, put around the end of a post, cane, or the like, to prevent splitting.

The thick iron ferrule is worn down, so it is evident that he has done a great amount of walking with it.

2. asperity [uh-sper-i-tee] noun
harshness or sharpness of tone, temper, or manner; severity; acrimony:

"May I inquire who has the honour to be the first?" asked Holmes with some asperity.

3. dyspnoea or dyspnea [dɪsp-ni-ə] noun
difficulty in breathing or in catching the breath

. . . it was explained that that is a symptom which is not unusual in cases of dyspnoea and death from cardiac exhaustion.

4. toff [tof] noun, British Informal
a stylishly dressed, fashionable person, especially one who is or wants to be considered a member of the upper class.

He was dressed like a toff, and he had a black beard, cut square at the end, and a pale face.

5. baulk [bawk] noun
Architecture: a roughly squared heavy timber beam

It was a fine apartment in which we found ourselves, large, lofty, and heavily raftered with huge baulks of age-blackened oak.

6. moor [moor] noun
1. a tract of open, peaty, wasteland, often overgrown with heath, common in high latitudes and altitudes where drainage is poor; heath.
2. a tract of land preserved for game.

". . . I counsel you by way of caution to forbear from crossing the moor in those dark hours when the powers of evil are exalted."

7. tor [tawr] noun
a rocky pinnacle; a peak of a bare or rocky mountain or hill.

There, outlined as black as an ebony statue on that shining background, I saw the figure of a man upon the tor.

8. disapprobation [dis-ap-ruh-bey-shuhn] noun
disapproval; condemnation

. . . I have more than once caught a look of the strongest disapprobation in his face when Sir Henry has been paying some attention to his sister.

9. distrait [dih-strey; French dees-tre] adjective
inattentive because of distracting worries, fears, etc.; absent-minded.

He is silent and distrait. His nerves have been strangely shaken by that sound upon the moor.

10. écarté [ey-kahr-tey; British ey-kahr-tey; French ey-kar-tey] noun
a card game for two players, played with 32 cards and king high

Mortimer had stayed to dinner, and he and the baronet played écarté afterwards.

11. pannikin [pan-i-kin] noun, Chiefly British
a small pan or metal cup.

. . . I saw, as my eyes became accustomed to the checkered light, a pannikin and a half-full bottle of spirits standing in the corner.

12. morass [muh-ras] noun
1. a tract of low, soft, wet ground. 2. a marsh or bog. 3. marshy ground.

There was no chance of finding footsteps in the mire, for the rising mud oozed swiftly in upon them, but as we at last reached firmer ground beyond the morass we all looked eagerly for them.

13. specious [spee-shuhs] adjective
apparently good or right though lacking real merit; superficially pleasing or plausible

He then, by a specious argument, prevented her from going, and so had the chance for which he had waited.

The spelling bee finals are Thursday evening on ESPN, at 8e/7c.

More Thursday Thirteen Lists


Cathy said...

I love spelling bees and loved when I was in them in grade school. Of course the words they gave to us were a lot simpler than the ones the National Spelling Bees have!

colleen said...

Spelling these words is secondary to knowing what they mean for me. I only knew 2 of them! I get an F.

Heather said...

Cathy: Yes, the National Spelling Bee uses a lot of words I've never heard of, never mind trying to spell them. You have to applaud these kids for their effort and determination.

Heather said...

Colleen: Wow, only two? Would I be correct in guessing they're the two that rhyme (moor and tor)?

CountryDew said...

I think morass is my favorite of those words. It sounds like what it is.

Alice Audrey said...

Talk about a flashback. When I first started visiting your blog you did a lot of these. I thought that was what the title was about.

Paige Tyler said...

Very cool! I know most of those, but don't ever use them! LOL!


My TT is at

Heather said...

Anita: Morass is a great word, isn't it? *G*

Heather said...

Alice: I don't do these as often as I used to, do I? Guess I'll have to work on that. ☺

Heather said...

Paige: Same here -- there were only a couple I wasn't completely sure of.

Shelley Munro said...

I know of most of these, but I'm glad I wasn't under pressure to spell them :)

Heather said...

Shelley: I hear that! Dyspnoea is the one that would trip me up for sure in a spelling bee.

Alice Audrey said...

They're fun, but I like your skywatch and other posts too.

Heather said...

LOL...Thanks! :)